China's largest online gambling trial began yesterday at Kunming Intermediate People's Court, with 20 suspects facing charges for involvement in a gambling ring involving more than 8.6 billion yuan (US$1.2 billion) in total wagers and more than 200 million yuan in profits – all illegal.
According to a Kunming Daily report the case centers around two Hong Kong brothers Tan Zhiwei (谭志伟) and Tan Zhiman (谭志满), who allegedly established casinos in Myanmar in 1999, laying the foundation for an online betting network.
The brothers allegedly built up an empire with more than 3,000 employees plus servers in the cities of Guangzhou and Dongguan in Guangdong province. One of the brothers' gambling sites attracted 5,198 registered users between August 2006 and March 2007, according to state prosecutors.
The twenty defendants are charged with the crimes of operating casinos and disrupting social order. It is China's largest online gambling case in terms of the amount of money involved, the amount of people involved and the amount of area covered. It is also noteworthy for being the most technologically advanced online gambling ring broken up to date.
One defendant is a former bank official at the Ruili branch of Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) who allegedly opened hundreds of bank accounts for the gambling operation. Clients of the illegal operation were able to place bets in Myanmar, via phone calls or online, according to the report.
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